For day 2 of the "My 500 Words" challenge, I am choosing to ignore the prompt that was sent to my inbox to tell you about something much more exciting: my first school speaking engagement!
Today, I was given the opportunity to be a guest speaker at my husband's school! Danny teaches AP Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Intro to Engineering and Computer Programming at Lighthouse Academy. Obviously, my man is a jack of all trades! What's cool about his school is how the faculty encourages its students to invest in something bigger than themselves. Walk for the Waiting sounded like an event that would be valuable for their students to engage in, so I went to tell them about it.
I was so nervous driving to the school. Luckily, I have an awesome friend that wanted to come listen to me, so she rode along to alleviate my nerves. I honestly don't know why I was so nervous... I was going to talk about Walk for the Waiting and tell my story - two things I should be very comfortable doing, right? And yet for some reason, no matter how confident I am about the message, or the group I'm talking to, my voice likes to shake in front of big groups. It drives me nuts. The last thing I wanted to do was have a shaky voice in front of a group of teenagers.
Town Hall is what the school's bi-monthly meeting is called. Students, grades 9-12, gather in the auditorium styled room to share talents and hear about upcoming announcements. I was the last to speak, which meant I got to watch quite a show first. First up was a group of students called A.S.C.E.N.D. (affiliated with the AKA fraternity), and they performed a step routine. Later came a solo dancer, doing the robot and krumping across the stage. I was so inspired by all the students' courage to get up in front of 300 of their peers to share what they're passionate about. It was exactly what I needed.
I was introduced as Mr. Cisar's wife, and I got quite the round of applause (hubby does a great job at work, and is well liked by most of his students). I began by telling them my story: how I was adopted when I was three days old, how I longed for closure on my identity as an adoptee, and how elated I was when I finally got to meet them. I reminded them of how small the world is - I went to high school with my full blooded little brother and had no idea; my older brother that I was raised with went to high school with my older half-brother that I would meet almost a decade later.
More important than teaching them about small worldliness, I taught them about the importance of being aware of foster care and adoption. I asked all the students to raise their hands if they knew someone that was fostered or adopted. Almost ALL the students raised their hands. I was so surprised!! I pointed out how many of them were affected by adoption either directly or indirectly. I shared with them the staggering statistic that there are 4,600 kids waiting in the foster care system in our state. I told them that was more than 15 Lighthouse Academy high schools... and that's a lot of kids.
Then I went on to tell them about Walk for the Waiting. I started by showing them the promo video since it summarizes the event so well. I invited all 300 of them to join us. I told them about volunteer opportunities, and ways to get involved with their friends. I encouraged the cheerleading squad to get registered as a team and compete with other school cheerleading squads to see who can raise the most money.
More important than the fundraising though... I brought adoption into their school. For some of them, it may have been the first time they've heard about adoption. For others, they may have been reminded just how staggering the crisis is. My goal was to encourage these kids to make a difference by joining us on April 30th for Walk for the Waiting. I want them to engage on social media, posting videos of their friends shouting "NO MORE WAITING!" and wearing Walk for the Waiting t-shirts.
I think I got my message across! Check this out: